for Robert Lowell
Out here, we don't talk about culture, we think we are. We nurtured Ezra Pound who ran from us like hell and never came back. You never came at all. You will never know how clever we never are out here. You never drank red beer. You never popped a grouse under a blue spruce just because it was there. Tell us about Schopenhauer and your friends and fine old family. We left ours at the Mississippi, have no names left to drop. We spend our time avoiding Californians and waiting for the sage to bloom, and when it does we miss the damn things half the time. When a stranger comes in we smile and say, "Tell us about yourself." Then we listen real close. But you would say, "I've said what I have to say." Too subtle, perhaps, for a can of beer, too Augustan for the Snake River breaks. But how do you know this wasn't just the place to die? Why not have those kinfolk ship your bones out here, just for irony's sake? We keep things plain and clear because of the mountains. Our mythology comes down to a logger stirring his coffee with his thumb.
From Stranger in Town: New and Selected Poems by Ron McFarland. Copyright © 2000 by Ron McFarland. Reprinted with the permission of the author and Confluence Press. All rights reserved.